Monday, June 25, 2007

The Garden Update

Here it is people...act amazed because this is a big deal for me. I have not only kept every plant in the garden alive but the whole thing is flourishing beyond my wildest expectations. It is actually starting to get...shall I say it...too big! If the space between the rows closes in much more I'll have to wear stilts while I'm weeding. Try to imagine that if you can.My tomato plants have gotten so big that I can hardly step between them and the squash plant is reaching out and touching everything! I have to say that it is a beautiful sight though. Tons of green, lots of blossoms, and a few flowers peaking out here and there. As far as the flower part of the garden is concerned the nasturtium are out in full force, the dahlia are just coming (I think there are 4 blooms), and two of the sunflowers are peaking out. You can just make out the dark rust and burgundy color of the sunflowers that I decided to plant. I think the big yellow ones are nice but these are so much more interesting and they go with my kitchen much better if I do decide to cut any from the garden.

Here is the last picture to show the magnitude of produce starting to come in. Here are the peas...the ones we didn't pick. I hope we can hold off long enough for them to get nice and fat before plucking them...however my son has already started to reach over the fence and pick them off the plants himself.
Hopefully I'll have another amazing update in a few weeks showing lots of squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. Until then I'll be finding ways to use up all the basil, peas, and lettuce out there.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rhubarb Crumble

This simple rhubarb crumble is a great way to enjoy the fresh tangy taste of rhubarb. The topping is easy and versatile, making its way onto a variety of fruits. It can also be made ahead and stored in the freezer to use whenever you need a quick dessert.
Rhubarb Crumble for Two
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 c sugar (less or more depending on taste)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar
3 T butter
pinch of salt
Combine granulated sugar and rhubarb in a pot over medium heat. Cook until rhubarb is tender about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine crumble ingredients and combine with fingers or a fork until mixture is uniform and butter is evenly distributed. Place rhubarb in a small ramekin or 4x5 inch baking dish. Top with as much crumble mixture as desired and bake at 350 degrees until topping is slightly brown on top, about 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Refrigerator Pickles

I'll have updates of the garden in the next couple of days. I'm amazed everyday by how well things are growing...sometimes I swear I can hear it while I'm there. My mom and I planted a couple of pickling cucumber plants and as you can see I'm getting myself prepared with recipes to use when all of the produce starts coming in.
These are fabulous...we ate one whole jar yesterday so I had to run and get more to replenish our stash. Here I used english or "hot house" cucumbers but I'll be eager to try the cute little ones when they're ready. They have a great tangy flavor. They come out slightly sweet and still crisp.

Refrigerator Pickles
adapted from Fresh Everyday more Great Recipes from Foster's Market

1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 T kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T pickling spices
1 large english cucumber
1/2 small white onion, sliced thinly
4-5 sprigs of fresh dill
Place everything except cucumbers in a quart jar with a tight lid. Shake to combine. Add cucumbers, shake again, and place in the refrigerator. Shake every hour or so for 4 hours to make sure all of the pickles are separated.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Our First Meal From the Garden

This is the day I've been waiting for. I've spent weeks and weeks hoeing, planting, watering, and weeding our garden all in hopes of bringing home fresh things to eat. My first harvest of the year was what sprung up from my salad mix seeds. These tender and tasty little lettuce leaves were the first things to come up and first things to mature enough for me to bring home. I was so eager to pluck them yet it almost hurt at the same time...knowing that I was killing something I had spent so much time caring for kind of hit a cord. But, I must say it was worth it. We enjoyed this fresh salad tremendously...not only was it delicious but I enjoyed each bite even more, knowing that I grew this out of nothing. What joy such simple things can bring!

Wilted Lettuce Salad
4-6 slices cooked bacon (rendered fat reserved)
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
(Hard boiled egg and green onions, optional)

Crumble sliced bacon and set aside. Heat bacon drippings in a small saucepan and add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Add in crumbled bacon. Pour warm dressing over lettuce leaves and serve immediately.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Super Easy Empanadas

These empanadas are super easy and delicious. I made a simple beef and cheese style since I had lots of 1-2 year olds eating them...but I am sure they would be great dressed up with a variety of fillings and dips. They were a hit with everyone and I'm looking forward to making them again.

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

1 large can of Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cresent Rolls
2 cups ground beef - browned (I also added one diced onion)
1 package taco seasoning (I used Lawry's)
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 egg, beaten

Once the ground beef is browned add the taco seasoning and cook as directed. Allow the filling to cool. Open crescent rolls and take two out - being careful not to separate them. Using a rolling pin, roll them out a little thinner. Cut about 3 circles (it will depend on the size of the circle) using a round cutter. (A large tin can would work well or even a wine glass would do the job.) Spoon about 1 tablespoon of beef into the center of the dough and add a large pinch of cheese. Carefully fold the circle over to make a half moon and crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat - one can should make about 15 empanadas. Using a small knife poke 3 small air vents in the top of each half moon and brush with a little egg. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

"Would you like to eat this tonight?" I asked Gabe as I pointed to a picture in a favorite cookbook. He nodded and I quickly got to work. I'm so thrilled that my son is starting to understand what we say. It is so rewarding to get a response when I talk to him now. He doesn't say much, but I get lots of nods, pointing, and actions. He can follow simple directions and he learns quickly. Yesterday I pointed to his belly button and said "Look at your belly button." Later on in the day I asked Gabe to show Daddy his belly button and he lifted up his shirt and pointed at it. It was so cute.
This recipe comes from my Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook which I love. Not one recipe has failed yet. I did however alter this one to accomodate a smaller amount and I did have to make a few concessions when making it for an 18 month old. It has less lemon and a little less parsley than the original recipe but amp it up if you wish.

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

Kosher Salt
1/2 lb linguine
1/3 stick unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
2 T minced garlic
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 t black pepper
2 T chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds

Boil pasta according to directions. In another large pan melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute on medium-low heat. Add the shrimp, 2 tsp. salt, and pepper. Cook under shrimp are just pink - about 5 minutes. Removed from the heat and add the lemon juice and parsley. Toss together with the pasta, add the lemon rounds, and serve.

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